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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  January 9, 2014 9:00pm-10:01pm PST

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thank you, chris, very much, my friend. thanks to you at home for joining us the next hour. i do have to say i think we may have this hour on this we may have an important new question to raise about this big story about new jersey. this is something you'll only see here. it is a question we think should be out there in the middle of this discussion. i'm going to explain it to you right now. on election day in november, november 2013, both of the big elections in this part of the country, of course, were blowouts. in new york city, democrat bill de blasio beat the republicans in the new york city mayor's race by 49 points. he didn't get 49%, his margin of victory was 49 points. everybody thinks of new york city as a very liberal place but before bill de blasio won in the landslide in new york, new york city hadn't had a democratic mayor in 20 years. that same night across the hudson rivers governor of the state of new jersey also won his race by a big margin.
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now, it wasn't quite a de blasio sized 49 point landslide. republican chris christie did win re-election as new jersey's governor by a lot. he won by 22 points which is a lot. but it is, if we're counting, less than half the size of the de blasio margin. on one level, who cares? the guy still won by a lot. maybe the governor does care about that. maybe he cares about not winning by a lot but as much as possible. today governor christie gave a long, long, long press conference responding to the scandal that has engulfed his administration. and that has possibly spiked his hopes of becoming the republican party's nominee for president. the "bergen record" newspaper yesterday as you know published documents that seemed to confirm democrats' longstanding allegations that lanes to the george washington bridge, most heavily traveled bridge in the world were shut down on purpose in order to create a huge traffic disaster in the town of ft. lee, new jersey, as some sort of political retribution.
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the governor had previously mocked the story and attacked the legislators who were investigating it. he had denied that anyone on his staff had anything to do with it. those denials, of course, became untenable yesterday once the record published an e-mail that appears to show chris christie's deputy chief of staff telling a chris christie appointee at the port authority that it was, "time for some traffic problems in ft. lee." at the press conference today, governor christie said he was humiliated by the actions of his top staff in this matter. he also said he did not know about those actions at all. but it was really interesting moment at that press conference when in the middle of this very long discussion, in the middle, specifically, of a long back and forth with reporters, the governor explained that when he was running for re-election, which is the time that this whole bridge shutdown happened, when he was running for re-election, part of what he and his campaign were working on at the time was a strategy to, in his words, run up the score. to run up the score in that election.
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he knew he was going to win re-election, but he wanted to win by as large a margin as possible. and that strategy to run up the score, that is what drove his team's decision making about local officials around the state of new jersey and specifically their endorsements in the governor's race. watch. >> i mean, i'm happy to admit that i was trying to run up the score. absolutely. that's what you do in a political campaign. try to get as many supporters, endorse e, that turn into voters. that's part of your job. >> are there any other cases -- are you asking your staff if there are any other cases of political retribution during your campaign to other mayors in new jersey? >> well, listen, again, let me say this. clearly, that's the tone of those e-mails. but the thing that -- the other part of this that just shocks me is, as i've said to you all many times before, major sokolich was never on my radar screen. he was never mentioned to me as somebody whose endorsement we were pursuing.
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in fact, he said on cnn last night he doesn't recall ever being asked for his endorsement. so part of this is i never saw this as political retribution because i didn't think he did anything to us. we pursued lots of endorsements during the campaign from democrats and didn't receive most of them. we received about 60 at the end of the day. we pursued hundreds. and so i never -- i don't have any recollection of at any time, anybody in the campaign ever asking me to meet with mayor sokolich or call him which was the typical course that was used when we were attempting to get an endorsement, that staff would work with the elected official first and then when they thought, using the ball was on the tee, they'd call me in to make a phone call, have a meeting, have breakfast and meet with the elected official and see if i can bring it over the line.
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i don't remember ever meeting mayor sokolich in that context. i have to tell you, until i saw his picture last night on television, i wouldn't have been able to pick him out of a lineup. so part of this is the reason that the retribution never came into my head is because i never even knew that we were pursuing his endorsement. and no one ever came to me to get me to try to pursue the endorsement in any way. i never saw it as a serious effort. >> fascinating. governor christie saying today he did pursue endorsements from hundreds of democratic officials in new jersey as part of his effort to run up the score in his re-election bid he knew he was going to win but he wanted to win by a huge margin. nbc news today cataloged a chronological list of all the democratic local officials endorsing governor christie and when those endorsements were made during the course of the
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campaign. there are a lot of them. those announcements from local democratic officials in new jersey were happening throughout the time that we know the governor's office ordered the ft. lee shutdown and throughout the time that that shutdown actually happened and ft. lee's traffic turned into armageddon. that democratic endorsement strategy was a real strategy and played out as the governor explained it. during his re-election campaign. it was all happening at about this time. but it's really interesting what governor christie said today, specifically about the mayor of ft. lee about mark sokolich. the governor admits, yes, he wanted endorsements from democratic local officials in general. mayor sokolich in ft. lee, no offense, but he was not a huge priority. met with lots of democrats to line up their endorsements. if the democratic official was los to endorsing or particularly important one to get, he, himself, would step in and make the contact himself rather than letting his staff deal with it. ft. lee endorsement one that important. the operating assumption to
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explain what happened in the chris christie bridge scandal is that this whole thing came about because of political retaliation for the ft. lee mayor refusing to endorse governor christie, and so his town of ft. lee had to pay the price. he didn't endorse, and so ft. lee had to be punished. the governor refuted that assumption today by saying, yes, i wanted endorsements but this one in ft. lee was not a high-stakes thing for us. we didn't even try hard for it. i didn't even meet the guy. why do you think my side would flip out so outrageously and bring the hammer down for not getting this endorsement? one in a zillion of them. we don't have to take christie's word for it. mark sokolich also indicated although he thinks he was maybe asked to endorse, it wasn't a short sharp shock. it wasn't a pressure campaign to get him onboard. he barely remembers it. he was asked about it last night on cnn. >> did they really expect you, a democrat, to endorse the republican candidates' re-election, chris christie?
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>> i guess. i've said this many times, i don't recall a specific request to endorse, but, you know, the events that led up to all of this, i guess you can interpret to be somehow attracting me to endorse. i didn't want to endorse for several reasons. not the least of which is i'm a democrat. i was supportive of miss buono. i wasn't prepared to do that. >> so it's true that the ft. lee mayor, mr. sokolich did not endorse chris christie when some other democratic officials did and the governor clearly wanted those endorsements. lots of democratic local officials in new jersey did not endorse chris christie, either, when they got asked to and didn't get their towns blown up for a week. if every one of those non-endorsements from democratic non-endorsers of chris christie all over the state had warranted the kind of revenge attack that was unleashed on ft. lee for a
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solid week back in september, you know what, the whole state of new jersey would still be a smoking hulk of wreckage today. maybe it wasn't about the endorsement. maybe it was something else special about ft. lee. this is the e-mail from the governor's deputy chief of staff who the governor just announced today that he has fired. the e-mail says, look on august 13th, 2013 at 7:34 a.m., bridget anne kelly wrote, "time for some traffic problems in ft. lee." why anyone? why then? this appears to be the order from governor christie's office to unleash hell on ft. lee. why? what happened around that time, 7:34 in the morning, august 13th, that was the time to pull the trigger? the governor, today, said he did not speak to the author of that e-mail, did not speak to his deputy chief of staff before he fired her.
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he said he didn't ask her what her motivation was in sending that e-mail and said he's not interested -- that was his phrase, not interested in whatever it was that motivated her to take that action. >> i have -- i have not had any conversation with bridget kelly since the e-mail came out. and so she was not given the opportunity to explain to me why she lied. because it was so obvious that she had. and i'm, quite frankly, not interested in the explanation at the moment. >> the only explanation anyone has about why she did do it, why the christie administration destroyed ft. lee for a week back in september, is the endorsements issue. the mayor's endorsement. and the governor went out of his way and fairly convincingly quashed that issue today. he basically said that wasn't it. maybe you don't belief him, but it seems like a fairly convincing case given the mayor's side of that case. we're going to have mayor sokolich on the show live tonight. we can ask him about it when
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he's here. if it wasn't the endorsement question that motivated the people who did this to ft. lee, what was it? and figuring out what it was, wouldn't that lead to an understanding of what did it in the christie administration? who was involved? who knew about it? how high that decision went? kind of seems like the key issue here. why. why did this happen? political retaliation for what? maybe the date and time on that e-mail is key. this is new jersey supreme court justice john wallace. in 2010, right after chris christie took office as governor of new jersey, governor christie made an unprecedented decision with regard to new jersey supreme court justice john wallace. for the first time, governor of new jersey mr. christie declined to reappoint a supreme court justice to the bench. supreme court justices in new jersey serve for seven years. that's their initial term. then the governor has the choice of whether or not to reappoint them.
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if they get reappointed, renominated, they get to serve until they're 70 years old. then it's a lifetime appointment. chris christie made the decision not to renominate judge wallace. before chris christie turfed out john wallace, no governor of either party in the history of the state had done that. no matter the party, either the governor making the renomination decision or party of the justice or party of the person who nominated the justice in the first place, nobody ever refused to renominate a justice before, ever. chris christie did it to justice john wallace. justice wallace was well regarded. there was no scandal around hill. there were no allegations against him whatsoever. he was the only african-american justice on the whole new jersey state supreme court. and chris christie kicked him off the court in a historically unprecedented move. that was 2010. "the new york times" titled their editorial on the subject, "the politicization of a respected court." they called the move a national disgrace. democrats were absolutely outraged. senate democrats responded by
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saying they wouldn't confirm anybody else for justice wallace's seat. they were so mad at chris christie about this. senate democrats made chris christie's first nominee to replace justice wallace, they made her wait until somebody else's seat came up on the court then they would consider her for that one, but not justice wallace's. chris christie nominated a man named phil quan. senate democrats said no. chris christie nominated a man named bruce harris for the court, senate democrats said no. senate democrats were so mad about what christie did to take john harris off the supreme court when he was up for renomination that they would not let anyone through. it's been a big political crisis in new jersey. senate democrats rejected every one of those christie nominees. one after the other. then when another of the justices on the supreme court, a republican came up for renomination just like john harris had, and the senate
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democrats signaled that they were going to give her a whale of a time at her renomination hearing, chris christie just flipped out. he had enough. he pulled that justice off the supreme court. rather than submit her to renomination before the senate democrats. look at the headline. look from the "star ledger." "supreme stunner. christie declines to nominate justice hoens for a lifetime tenure." she was a republican judge already on the bench. chris christie pulled her off the bench for only the second time ever in new jersey history, he did that to a judge. the reason he said he did it in her case is not because of any beef with her. quite the contrary. it's because he said senate democrats were animals. that was the word he used. he said, they are animals. and he was not going to subject this judge who he respected, who was the wife of someone in his administration, he was not going to subject her to the savagery
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of the senate democrats. >> as to her husband, bob has been a respected member of this administration right from the beginning. i simply could not be party to the destruction of helen hoens' professional reputation. the only way for me to guarantee that being avoided was to make sure that i didn't put justice hoens in that position. i'm taking responsibility for not allowing this group of people to do to her what they did to phil quan and what they did to bruce harris. i had no choice but to do that. what the ramifications will be for that going forward, they should have thought about before they opened their mouths. that's not the way i deal with people i respect and admire. i was not going to let her loose to the animals. wasn't going to let it happen. >> that was an angry chris christie. so angry that he was doing something almost unprecedented in new jersey. yanking the tenure of a state supreme court justice who he liked. that was an angry chris christie furious with senate democrats at
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a hastily called press conference that took place late in the day on tuesday august 12th, 2013. tuesday, august 12th, 2013. late in the day. the governor blows up at senate democrats. yanks the judgeship of a supreme court justice and calls the senate democrats animals. it's not just a justice he admires and a republican on the state supreme court. it is the wife of one of his key staffers. he is outraged at senate democrats. late in the day, august 12th. and it is the next morning at 7:34 in the morning on august 13th that his deputy chief of staff gives the go-ahead to the port authority. "time for some traffic problems in ft. lee." go to the list of legislative districts for the state of new jersey. find ft. lee. ft. lee, new jersey, legislative district 37. who represents district 37? they have two members of the state assembly. and the leader of the senate democrats.
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leader of the senate democrats represents ft. lee. roughly 12 hours after governor christie blows up at the senate democrats and torpedos the career of a supreme court justice who he likes because he says the senate democrats are animals and not going to let the justice loose to those animals. the leader of those animals in the senate sees her district, sees her district get the order of destruction from governor christie's deputy chief of staff. or maybe it was about that endorsement. until someone who knows the actual truth about this speaks, it remains a wide open question. and may be the key to this whole story. the leader of the senate democrats who represents ft. lee joins us next. [ female announcer ] who are we? we are the thinkers. the job jugglers. the up all-nighters. and the ones who turn ideas into action. we've made our passions our life's work. we strive for the moments where we can say, "i did it!" ♪ we are entrepreneurs who started it all...
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i have not had any conversation with bridget kelly since the e-mail came out. and so she was not given the opportunity to explain to me why she lied because it was so obvious she had. i'm quite frankly not interested in the explanation at the moment. >> governor chris christie says his former deputy chief of staff bridget kelly did not explain to him her e-mail calling for ft. lee, new jersey, to have traffic problems on purpose presumably for political reasons. surely bridget kelly knows what everybody else wants to know which is why did this happen? what was this political retaliation for? who knew about it and who ordered it ultimately? joining us, loretta weinberg. she represents a district that includes ft. lee, new jersey, and somebody governor christie previously said is unfairly obsessed with this story. thank you for being with us. >> thank you, rachel. >> are you satisfied with what you heard from governor christie today, his explanation and repeated insistence he had nothing to do with it?
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>> no. this issue has been going on for pretty near four months now. you've covered it certainly in detail, as other tv outlets have. as the newspapers have. and the fact the governor never noticed anything about this until yesterday, either there's something wrong with the governor, or he doesn't read newspapers. he doesn't watch tv. his two top appointees at the port authority resigned. obviously under pressure. he didn't ask them what went on there. he appoints all the port authority commissioners. all the new jersey commissioners. he didn't ask one of them, could you get to the bottom of this?
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he read, just like the rest of us did, the e-mail from the executive director, patrick foy, who said laws might have been broken here. he didn't attempt to find out what laws were broken here. and then fast forward. now we have a deputy chief of staff right in his own office. so it is very difficult for me to believe, having appeared at four port authority meetings over the last four months, that the governor yesterday suddenly noticed this was a really big deal. first he thought assemblyman wisniewski and i had nothing else to do, we were fix sated, then he made fun of the deal, it was no big deal, sure, i was out there rearranging the cones. just yesterday he found out thousands of people were put into jeopardy.
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that emt people could not get to the calls that came out. that schoolchildren -- you're driving your kindergartner to school on his or her first day to school and caught in a two hour traffic jam. he didn't know any of this until yesterday and then he had so little curiosity that he never asked bridget kelly, you were sitting in your office one day and decided to create a traffic jam in ft. lee? there's no curiosity about that? there are so many holes in this. his words were appropriate, gee, i'm sorry, but he was four months too late and i cannot believe that it happened only yesterday that he noticed that this was a pretty big deal. this was the first week of school. it was the week of 9/11. it's the busiest bridge in the world. it's the week of the 9/11 observance. it's a homeland security target. and he just noticed that
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yesterday. i find that a little difficult. >> one of his appointees to the port authority is the chairman of the port authority, former attorney general samson. the governor today expressed lots of concern and disappointment and anger he'd been lied to even face to face by people close to him, former attorney general samson is mentioned in the e-mails and text messages that were released yesterday by the record as having taken part in the, quote, retaliation involved in this whole kerfuffle. >> retaliate against the executive director because -- >> of the port authority. >> -- he reversed the lane closure. >> governor christie today said he talked to chairman samson about that and is assured chairman samson had nothing to do with it so he considers that matter closed. he takes his word for it. do you find that dissatisfying? >> well, i think there are so many holes in this whole story, and having appeared before the port authority commission, which i find so frustrating because they happen to be all men, but they all looked at me, you know -- next month she won't be back. and i haven't heard one of their voices.
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not one of them has said, gee, i'd like to get to the bottom of this. i wrote a personal letter in mid-september to commissioner pat shuber who i voted for. i happened to be on the judiciary committee, by the way, that voted no on the two supreme court nominees that you referred to in the earlier segment. i wrote to pat. he's a former county executive of bergen county. i knew that he knew bergen county. he knew the implications of the bridge. when he received my letter in mid-september, he did call me and said, i don't know anything about this, but i'm going to get to the bottom of this. i still haven't heard from pat. >> i have to ask you in terms of -- if this happens because of political retaliation, ft. lee was harmed for political purposes which seems clear to be the implication from the documents released yesterday. it seems as likely to me as a person just looking at this from outside that the mayor was being retaliated against for not endorsing chris christie or that you were being retaliated against as the senator who
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represents ft. lee who's also the leader of the senate democrats because just the night before, the order was given from his office, the governor was pounding the podium and exclaiming how angry he was at senate democrats for a fight over judicial nominees. you're on the judiciary committee, a member of the senate democrats. could it have been about you? >> you know, it seems to me that the governor has created a culture here, a culture that somehow made many of the people who work for him think this kind of behavior is appropriate. i can't get into this heart and mind and know exactly what it is that provoked this. but bridget kelly sitting in her office did not suddenly think up, i have nothing else to do this afternoon, i'm going to create a traffic jam. and then when she sent that e-mail to david wildstein, create the time for traffic in ft. lee, he said, got it. if i just sent you an e-mail
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that said, create traffic in ft. lee, you'd probably say to me, what are you talking about? so there was the whole context where that e-mail meant something to david wildstein. the governor has not asked a question about that. it's just -- if, in fact, he at one point besides saying we were kind of fixated on it, he made a comment about, this has to do with me bringing home the bacon which i don't quite understand what that had to do with the george washington bridge. as i said, we're talking about the busiest bridge in the world. somebody thought up one of the most grotesque schemes i've ever heard of in politics. and we don't know all the answers. we don't even know half the answers now. >> new jersey senate majority leader loretta weinberg. thank you for your time tonight. thank you for not minding that i posited that theory about that while you were waiting in the wings. the senator had nothing to do with that. coming up next, the part
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could you state and spell your last name for the record? >> david wildstein. w-i-l-d-s-t-e-i-n. >> where do you currently reside? >> montville, new jersey. >> okay. and are you currently employed? >> no. >> most recently, where were you employed?
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>> on the advice of my counsel, i respectfully assert my right it remain silent under the united states and new jersey constitutions. >> page 751 contains communications. my question is, does page 751 contain communications dated august 5th, 2013? >> on the advice of counsel, i, again, assert my right to remain silent. on the advice of counsel, i assert my right to remain silent. >> the right to refuse to answer questions to this committee is not permitted under those rules. the committee does have the right to find your client's failure to respond to asked questions to be in contempt of this committee's subpoena and to take a vote on that and that matter may be referred to the appropriate law enforcement authorities. you understand that? >> that is understood, sir. >> that was the lawyer for a chris christie political appointee named david wildstein,
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the man in the glasses you saw there taking the fifth over and over again during a hearing on the bridge scandal in the new jersey legislature. david wildstein appeared to carry out the order from the deputy chief of staff to close down lanes to the george washington bridge last september in order to intentionally cause traffic problems in the city of ft. lee for almost a week. mr. wildstein was warned during the hearing his failure to answer questions could lead the committee to hold him in contempt. the committee ultimately did vote to hold him in contempt. that contempt charge will now be referred to a new jersey county prosecutor. listen to this exchange between the democratic state assemblyman leading this investigation, john wisniewski and attorney for david wildstein. >> there are interesting questions raised by who in the governor's office knew about the
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plan to close the lanes or divert the lanes. who was involved. what did they know, when did they know it? and just as equally, who was involved, what did they know, when did they know it when the effort was made to craft an explanation for the lane closure? and so those documents only tell part of the story. >> well, if the attorneys general for new jersey, new york and the united states were all to agree to clothe mr. wildstein in immunity, you'd find yourselves in a much different position with respect to information he can provide. >> that's your job. we just want answers to our questions. >> understood. >> if you grant my client full and complete immunity -- no, in the united states and new york and new jersey all grant my client full immunity, then maybe you'll get some answers to your questions. governor christie today said at his press conference that his instruction to everyone involved in this issue would be, quote, to cooperate and answer
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questions. chairman of the new jersey state assembly transportation committee john wisniewski at the center of the investigation and has been since it began, he joins us now. thanks so much for coming to the show. >> rachel, good to be with you again. >> did you expect him taking the fifth all day? >> i expected he'd take the fifth on some questions but not on questions like did you work at the port authority? i didn't think the status of being a former employee rose to the level of criminality. it was a very surreal experience. look, he submitted 907 pages of documents. we wanted to ask him questions about the documents that he submitted. and he refused to answer those questions. i think the time to assert a privilege to say i'm not going to answer would have been before he gave us those documents.
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not after. >> what did you learn today at the hearing other than the fact of mr. wildstein's silence? >> i learned his attorney is looking to get immunity so his client an testify. that's something not in the purview of the committee or legislature. he has to deal with the u.s. attorneys and attorneys general in both states. >> the damning and memorable e-mail says, time for traffic problems in ft. lee. that was from a woman named bridget anne kelly. the governor at the press conference said he never spoke with miss kelly after that e-mail surfaced. do you intend to subpoena bridget kelly to get answers to the questions. >> we intend to subpoena bridget kelly. i want to point out, rachel. there's a pattern here. when pat foy came and said this was all david wildstein's idea, he did this, it was his plan and we asked the question, well, of course you spoke with him, didn't you? no, of course not. now the governor, well this was all bridget kelly's idea. you spoke to her, no?
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of course not. and so it seems like the plan is let's just fire the people or terminate them or have them resign and not ask any questions which doesn't seem to meet the expectation the governor created today that he really wants to get to the bottom of it. he wants to sweep it under the rug by making people disappear. >> some long-term observers of new jersey politics have suggested recently that it may at least until yesterday have been the governor's strategy and may still be to try to run out the clock and slow walk this as much as possible so that the subpoena authority of you and your committee, which is due to expire on the 14th, runs out and your investigation essentially gets stopped. have you seen evidence of that? are you confident the subpoena authority of your committee is going to be renewed in light of recent developments? >> i think the motion that was made today to quash the subpoena was part of that. to at least delay the hearing today to perhaps after january 14th, at which point in time they'd probably come back and say we'd love to comply, but the authority expired.
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i've spoken with the incoming speaker. he put a statement out saying he expects the investigation to continue. i'm confident the committee will continue to have authority to look into this. there are so many unanswered questions, it would be unconscionable for the committee not to be able to finish its work. >> in terms of what else is happening in other investigatory arms, obviously you're in charge of what the assembly is doing in the transportation committee. you suggested here last night that there should be a u.s. attorney looking into this. that this might be a matter with federal charges. the u.s. attorney today announced the start of an inquiry to see whether or not any federal law is implicated here. is that important? >> very important. look. a public asset, bridge, was used for political purposes. that's against the law. and someone ought to look into that. what the committee is looking into is how do we stop this from happening in the future? and change the law to prevent that?
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but there are two investigations that need to happen here. one about the criminality. one about how we fix the port authority. >> assemblyman john wisniewski, chairman investigating this matter, thank you for keeping us apprised. we'll be right back. the mayor of ft. lee, new jersey, is going to join us in just a moment. and get $100 off your deductible for every year of safe driving. which means you could save... a lot of benjamins. we put members first, because we don't have shareholders. join the nation. ♪ nationwide is on your side ♪ before those little pieces would get in between my dentures and my gum and it was uncomfortable. [ male announcer ] just a few dabs is clinically proven to seal out more food particles. [ corrine ] super poligrip is part of my life now.
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enjoy the relief! you're not doing anything as fast as you used to,s chews. which is funny, 'cause i still do it better than her. you know, i don't think i was meant to sweep. it's a little frustrating. look. [ zach ] i can't help out as much as i used to. do you need help? [ doorbell rings ] let's open it up. it's a swiffer sweeper. it's a swiffer dusters. it can extend so i don't have to get on the step stool. i don't know how it stays on there. it's like a dirt magnet -- just like my kids. [ afi ] this is a danger zone. that is crazy. ah-ha-ha! [ zach ] yeah. no, this definitely beats hanging out on a step ladder. what's up, baby? having previously mocked the city of ft. lee, and insulted the town and insulted its officials, going as far as to question whether or not that town even deserved the now famous lanes that go from ft. lee on to the george washington bridge in the first place. having done all that, new jersey governor chris christie today finally said that he owed ft. lee an apology. >> i'm going to be going to ft.
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lee. i asked to meet with the mayor apologize to him personally face to face and also apologize to the people of ft. lee in their town. i think they need to see me do that personally. >> and then what happened? after the governor said that, this was the response from ft. lee's mayor. >> his trip here today is premature. it's going to disrupt our case. it's going to disrupt the school system. i certainly know that's not the governor's intention, please. i would just rather this investigation continue and more facts come into light. because let's face it, there's facts that come into light each and every day. i'd rather he not waste the gas and wait a little bit. and wait a little bit. >> ft. lee mayor mark sokolich joins us next. stay with us. even after eating and drinking. crest pro-health has always done that. and addresses all these other areas as well.
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but i would just rather this investigation continue and more facts come into light, because let's face it, there are facts that come into light each and every day. i'd rather he got waste the gas and wait a little bit. >> joining us now is the mayor of ft. lee, new jersey, mark sokolich. thank you very much for being here. i know it's been a long and stressful day for you. >> thank you, rachel. >> first let me ask you, i know governor christie did make his way to ft. lee today despite your plea maybe it was premature. how did it go once he got there, and ultimately are you glad he came? >> i'm glad that he came. you know, the suggestion that he not come was not to be disrespectful in any manner, shape or form. this continues as there are just more and more facts and there seems to be more and more chapters that just haven't been read yet. so we thought that, perhaps, it would be best to wait. he insisted on coming. we also said that if he came, he would be welcomed because that's the way we are here in ft. lee.
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he came. and we had a very sincere, candid and productive conversation. so we're glad he came. >> mayor sokolich, you were on record when the traffic gridlock started on september 9th. there's record from the disclosed documents yesterday and also the press at the time, letters we've seen of you making an impassioned case through every means you could to the port authority, to other officials in new jersey trying to get to the bottom of what was going on and how it could be alleviated. you expressing the harm being done to your community especially on the first week of school and the schoolkids. when it was happening, did you know or have any guess as to why it was being done? >> you know, first, we hit that monday, absolutely no notice. we're in the middle of what we're calling trafficgeddon up here. complete shutdown, complete gridlock. the southernmost end of town is
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in gridlock. after inquiries, we're getting no responses. we're provided with absolutely no notice, completely not indicative of what transpires in the past. then, of course, the rumor mill started almost immediately said, mayor, you know, we're hearing this is about you and it, you know, who'd you get mad and what have you? i said, no, can't be, i'm not that important. come tuesday, we wake up, same issue. no notice, complete traffic gridlock. while i still didn't believe it, the voice in the back of my head was a little louder. when we hit wednesday, wake up at 5:30, 6:00, confirm we got the same problem, no notice, no one's responding to any texts, cell phone calls, e-mails, phone calls to the port. now that voice in the back of my head is pretty loud. of course, we then find ourselves on thursday. so once i hit thursday, i'm not so sure there aren't too many
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people in the entire world that would not have reached at least a suspicion that this wasn't about me. >> in terms of -- >> based on all the facts. >> in terms of why it might have been about you, this idea that you not endorsing governor christie when a lot of other democratic officials were endorsing the governor seems to be operatings, maybe that's why he's mad at you. he insisted today that wasn't it. we, he wanted democratic endorsements but yours wasn't the top of the list and wouldn't have been worthy of this retaliation even if he wasn't interested in retaliation. are there any other issues on which you clashed with the christie administration or which any other officials from ft. lee clashed with the christie administration that might have engendered this kind of vendetta? >> no, not that i'm aware of. there's a side story to all of this, rachel. ft. lee, we're going through a renaissance at the moment. we've taken steps in the last three years we haven't taken in any prior 25. we are in the middle of a
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billion, i said a billion-dollar redevelopment on a piece of property that's laid fallow for over 45 years right at the foot of the bridge. you know, there were some theorists and speculators that suggested that, you know, maybe you guys are progressing too quickly. maybe you're too successful in ft. lee. we've been called one of the more progressive communities in the state of new jersey. we're the gateway community to the state of new jersey. people put in my head maybe you're going to be brought down a notch or two. maybe this will discourage you from thinking about, you know, using ft. lee as perhaps a political steppingstone. a coup of things to that. i've reached my political mountain top. i have no such aspiration and i'm here to serve the people of ft. lee, but i'm not so sure that's too plausible of an idea. but that was put in my head also. >> i also just want to ask you. as this continues to be investigated in the assembly and the senate, the u.s. attorney is looking into it. there's questions about whether
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or not stat statutes might have been broken here. as all the investigations continue, what is it that you most want to know. what would help you make it right or at least settle thiss a an issue for you and the people of ft. lee. >> rachel, from the day that happened on that monday, politics is a funny thing. and i always had suspicions that no matter how bizarre and how no matter how incomprehensible the actions of the port authority were during the course of those four days, there would always be those that would try to somehow ratify it. suggest ft. lee being treated unfairly, suggest we're not deserving of three lanes when, you know, remain mindful it's not just ft. lee traffic. we have about 75,000 cars that go through our local roads every day. we serve 20, 40, 50 different communities every day. and i was always worried there would be these counterattacks. these operatives and folks that
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would, you know, bring harm to my community. that, number one, and number two, we were always fearful and we continue to be a bit fearful about future retribution. i will tell you the first question that i asked if the governor what assurance you can provide that we've got an unconditional, unequivocal from the chief executive of the state of new jersey that ft. lee need not fear any further retribution. he gave me that assurance and i expressed that to my citizenry as well. >> i'm sure you're exhausted at this point in the story. i really appreciate you being here. thank you. >> thank you, rachel. >> it is telling that the first question the mayor had to ask the governor is are you going to retaliate against us for this? retribution, new jersey. we'll be right back. [ male announcer ] alka seltzer plus presents the cold truth. [ coughs, sneezes ] [ sniffles ] i have a big meeting when we land, but i am so stuffed up, i can't rest. [ male announcer ] truth is, nyquil cold and flu liquid gels don't unstuff your nose.
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the u.s. ♪ most of america's energy comes from right here at home. take the energy quiz. energy lives here. you're not doing anything as fast as you used to, take the energy quiz. which is funny, 'cause i still do it better than her. you know, i don't think i was meant to sweep. it's a little frustrating. look. [ zach ] i can't help out as much as i used to. do you need help? [ doorbell rings ] let's open it up. it's a swiffer sweeper. it's a swiffer dusters. it can extend so i don't have to get on the step stool. i don't know how it stays on there. it's like a dirt magnet -- just like my kids. [ afi ] this is a danger zone. that is crazy. ah-ha-ha! [ zach ] yeah. no, this definitely beats hanging out on a step ladder. what's up, baby? you stand behind what you say. there's a saying around here, around here you don't make excuses. you make commitments. and when you can't live up to them, you own up, and make it right. some people think the kind of accountability
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that thrives on so many streets in this country has gone missing in the places where it's needed most. but i know you'll still find it when you know where to look. that it's given me time toabout reflect on some of life'seen biggest questions. like, if you could save hundreds on car insurance by making one simple call, why wouldn't you make that call? see, the only thing i can think of is that you can't get any... bars. ah, that's better. it's a beautiful view. i wonder if i can see mt. rushmore from here. geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. >> another person who declared that it was, quote, time for some traffic problems in ft. lee
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was a staffer in governor chris christie's office. the reply to that order, "got it" he works for the agency that runs the george washington bridge. but bridget kelly was the one who said it's time for traffic problems and she worked for chris christie as deputy chief of staff. the chief of staff throughout the bridge crisis from the time of that august e-mail and continuing today is a man named kevin o'dowd. we should make it clear that mr. o'dowd has in no way been accused in this scandal. beyond his current role as reach of staff, though, chris christie nominated him to become the next attorney general of the state of new jersey. to become new jersey's top law enforcement official. now, of course, with governor christie saying he's been blind sided about the but revelations, reports want to know now if anything about the plan for kevin o'dowd's next job might be changing. >> oh, absolutely not.
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kevin's confirmation hearing will go forward on tuesday, and i expect, you know, heel billion vigorously questioned like any candidate for attorney general should be, and i expect that he'll get swift and certain confirmation because he deserves it. >> no problem, governor christie says. my chief of staff deserves to be attorney general for the state. i expect he'll get swift and certain confirmation. remember, it's only his deputy that i fired for the shutdown of ft. lee. why would that affect him? if governor christie's chief of staff is confirmed as attorney general, then kevin o'dowd might get himself an opportunity to run a criminal investigation into what happened with his deputy. there is a new jersey criminal statute about official misconduct, and there's a federal inquiry that new jersey has called for and that's started with the u.s. attorney general for the state. and in the middle of that, as
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the new jersey attorney general, governor chris christie plans to have his own former chief of staff, who was there throughout this entire thing. the confirmation hearing is set for tuesday. he is expected to testify under oath. the chair of the state senate committee said yesterday if the now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." have a great night. chris christie kept talking and talking and talking in his press conference today as if he didn't want it to be over because once the press conference ended, his political career would end with it. >> i know you guys are obsessed with this. i'm not. it's not that big a deal. >> lane closure controversy on the george washington bridge. >> the george washington bridge.

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